Here at the OnlineItalianClub.com clubhouse, we’ve had a stressful week due to the unfortunate similarity in spelling between two middle-eastern countries, Iraq and Iran.
One is an Arabic-speaking state, currently hosting elements from the armed forces of the USA, the UK and, amongst other countries, Italy and Sweden (supposedly to prevent the resurgence of the so-called Islamic State militia). Its capital city is Baghdad.
While the other is a much larger Persian-speaking theocracy, and longer-term enemy of the USA – since the religious revolutionary-overthrow of the western-orientated Shah (king) in 1979, and the subsequent U.S. embassy seige and hostage-taking. Its capital is Tehran.
In part, the confusion is due to the fact that the latter is competing for regional influence with the USA in the territory of the former. Groups in Iraq are supported/sponsored by Iran in their struggle for political representation and desire for anti-IS forces to go home and mind their own business.
In part it’s the spelling, as I said: EYR-raq and EYE-ran.
But that really isn’t a great excuse for confusing the two. I’d probably have got away with it in middle school, but not after that.
And yet, some of the writers for our website EasyItalianNews.com seem to have had issues distinguishing one country from the other. Which this week has necessitated apologies from the editor…
Tuesday’s edition required this, rather embarassing, correction:
Ci scusiamo per una svista nel primo articolo di questa edizione: la figlia di Soleimani ha auspicato il ritiro delle truppe americane dall’Iraq, non dall’Iran.
Oops! Our Italian-teacher cum writer thought the Americans were occupying the OTHER place!
Two days later she had to add this footnote to Thursday’s bulletin:
Nell’articolo “Iran lancia missili contro le basi USA” in realtà sono fonti iraniane (e non irachene) a ribadire la possibilità (poi smentita) di 80 vittime.
If you’ve been following the news, you’ll already know that an American drone attacked a convoy outside IRAQ’s international aiport, which was carrying, amongst other unfortunates, one of IRAN’s top generals (Soleimani), no doubt on his way to forment as much trouble as possible.
And that IRAN’s response to his death was to shoot rockets at a couple of IRAQI bases in IRAQ which host U.S. and other foreign forces, presumably with a view to satisfying IRANIAN public opinion that their goverment was able and willing to stand up for its citizens in the face of foreign agression.
Rather hopefully, a TERHAN news source (IRAN) announced that (hurrah!) many foreigners had been killed and wounded as a consequence. Unfortunately we reported this, and worse, implied that this information had come from IRAQ, where they presumably should know the facts of the matter, the attack being on their bases, rather than that it was wild propaganda from IRAN.
Oh well… No one complained, except me. But I admit to having been rather irate with our team.
So why should any of that matter to you, student or would-be student of ITALIAN?
Well perhaps it doesn’t.
You may not have read or listened to either bulletin, and if you did, you may not have understood them, nor noticed the errors, or cared about them even if you had.
Mistakes happen, it must be said. And EasyItalianNews.com is not a ‘real’ news broadcaster but a listening/reading resource for people learning Italian.
I console myself by thinking that it would have been very satisfying for those of you who did listen, who did understand, and who did notice the confusion between the two EYEs.
“That’s nonsense!” I shouted at my computer (and later at my staff).
I hope you did, too.
Well… why not?
Here’s a multiple-choice question for you, my favorite type:
“I don’t listen to the free, thrice-weekly broadcasts from EasyItalianNews.com because…”
a.) I don’t have time.
b.) I don’t read/listen to ANY news. It’s too depressing.
c.) The material is too difficult for me.
d.) It’s written by Italian teachers who wouldn’t know a Persian from an Arab.
I suspect not d.), so that’s (sort of) OK, then.
But if you answered a.) then, well, why not make time? The bulletins are at most ten minutes long. Surely you can fit one in at lunchtime, or during your commute, or while stacking the dishwasher? Everyone has internet broadband these days, and the site is mobile-friendly, so you can listen anywhere there’s WiFi.
For the b.) people, yes, news can be a downer, I see that. But free listening/reading practise material for students (audio + transcript) does not grow on trees. If you want to, one day, understand natural-speed spoken Italian, you will actually need to put in the hours practising with transitional material like this.
And as regards c.), well OF COURSE it’s too difficult for you (until one day, when it won’t be). But it won’t get any easier if you don’t engage with it. And anyway, it’s not a test. You mom’s not standing over you with a rolling pin ready to beat you if you don’t understand every word.
Just listen to the bulletin all the way through, then listen once or twice more if you can spare the time, then stop. Repeat each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for a few months. Then come back and tell me that your comprehension of spoken and written Italian hasn’t improved, no not a jot!
An improvement in your understanding of geopolitics, on the other hand, is not guaranteed…
How do I know that listening to EasyItalianNews.com will, eventually, help you?
For almost two years now, I have been a faithful follower of 8 Sidor. It’s where I got the inspiration for EasyItalianNews.com. Many thanks to the long-forgotten online Swedish teacher who put me on to it! Her grammar explanations were truly awful, but that tip was worth paying for.
It’s my habit to listen to each weekday’s bulletin three times, once with the text and twice without. As a result, my listening, and understanding of the culture of the country where the language I’m studying is spoken, has improved commensurately.
Also each weekday, I listen to the (more in-depth) 8-10 minute report from the professional journalists at Radio Sweden på lätt svenska. Also three times, which takes thirty-minutes out of each evening but is worth it.
Ingrid and Jenny mention that there are transcripts available on their website, but I’ve never managed to find them, so I just listen, without a text. At first, I understood little. Now I follow without apparent effort, and actually look forward to each broadcast.
Both 8 Sidor and Radio Sweden på lätt svenska are free to use, I suspect because Sweden has many recent immigrants to integrate so its producers of material for learners are swimming in government cash.
Which means that, if you’ve bought an ebook, or are taking online lessons with us, it’s YOUR MONEY that I’m spending, on people who don’t know Baghdad from Tehran.
Best make the most of it, then!
And there’s loads of non-newsy listening material, organised by level, on the club website.